Today, US Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), Ranking Member of the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, sent a letter to the Subcommittee's Chairman calling for a hearing to shine light on the House Republican Leadership's irresponsible, backdoor use of taxpayer money to pay the private law firm Bancroft PLLC to represent the House in support of the constitutionally-questionable Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). After having Bancroft PLLC blow through the original cap of half a million dollars, the House Republican Leadership recently modified the contract, likely tripling the cost for the American taxpayer to $1.5 million. During a time of professed fiscal responsibility, the House Republican Leadership has chosen to continue to spend taxpayer money to protect discrimination through a process that has lacked any semblance of transparency.
October 18, 2011
The Honorable Ander Crenshaw
Subcommittee on Legislative Branch
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Crenshaw:
As you will recall, at a House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee hearing earlier this year, it was brought to the Subcommittee's attention that House Republican Leadership authorized the House General Counsel, Mr. Kerry Kircher, to sign a contract for legal services with the private law firm Bancroft PLLC to represent the House in support of the constitutionally-questionable Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The contract states, "The General Counsel agrees to pay the Contractor for all contractual services rendered a sum not to exceed $500,000." At the time, both Mr. Kircher and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dan Strodel, who ultimately writes the checks to Bancroft PLLC on behalf of the House, said that House Republican Leadership had not informed them of how the House planned to pay the law firm for their services.
The American people are now being told by Speaker Boehner and House Republican Leadership that even more of their tax dollars will be spent to defend a provision in DOMA that has systemically discriminated against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered community. In a contract modification approved by House Administration Committee Chairman Daniel Lungren on September 30, 2011, the House General Counsel agreed to raise the cap to $750,000, and up to $1.5 million with written consent. Once again, no one appears to know where these additional funds will come from.
In a time of professed fiscal responsibility, it is unconscionable for the House Republican Leadership to continue to spend taxpayer money to protect discrimination, especially through a process that has, thus far, lacked any semblance of transparency. I ask that you immediately hold a hearing on this matter so that we can shine light on this irresponsible, backdoor use of taxpayer money. Our subcommittee and the American people deserve to know why the House Republican Leadership is pursuing this effort to protect a discriminatory law, an effort which, at a time of high unemployment, only serves to create jobs for Speaker Boehner's hand-picked, high-priced lawyers. We also deserve to know why the cost has escalated so rapidly in such a short time, and how much the Republican Leadership plans to spend on this unwise endeavor. We should not be handing over a blank check that will allow unlimited taxpayer dollars to be spent on the Republican Leadership's political agenda.
I thank you in advance for your consideration and look forward to your response.
Michael M. Honda
cc: Hon. John Boehner, Speaker
Hon. Eric Cantor, Majority Leader
Hon. Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip
Hon. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader
Hon. Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip